Will ally only with small parties for Uttar Pradesh polls: Congress rules out tie-ups with SP, BSP
Party's state unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu expressed confidence of winning the elections under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and form the next government
NEW DELHI: Virtually ruling out an alliance with the SP and BSP for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Congress' state unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu on Sunday said his party will forge alliances only with small parties and will "not even think about" joining hands with the big ones for the elections.
He also said the governments of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) that have ruled Uttar Pradesh in the last 32 years, when Congress was not in power, failed to live up to the expectations of the people and the Congress was set for a comeback in the state.
In an interview with PTI, Lallu said that in the eyes of the people of Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is the main challenger to the BJP in the polls next year and expressed confidence that the party would win the elections under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and form the next government.
The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president said the party will fight the polls under the "supervision" of Priyanka Gandhi as she is the general secretary in-charge of the state and a call on the issue of chief ministerial face will be taken by the national leadership.
Asked about the Congress' stand on alliances for the UP polls and if there was still a possibility of a tie-up with the SP and BSP, Lallu said, "The Congress' stand on alliances is clear, we will forge alliances only with small parties. We will not even think about aligning again with big parties."
Pointing to the reaction of SP and BSP to a Congress booklet that talked about misrule under the non-Congress governments in the last 32 years, he said it is clear that "we will align with small parties" on the issues of the poor, farmers, youth and women's security.
"We are moving forward as a strong opposition force and under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi we will win the polls, and form the government in 2022," Lallu said, adding that he was in touch with small parties on alliances but could not talk about the details now.
Both the SP and BSP have also ruled out tying up with the Congress, with SP's Akhilesh Yadav saying the party will forge alliances only with small parties and Mayawati asserting that BSP would go solo in the polls.
Lallu claimed that SP as the main challenger to the BJP for the 2022 polls was a media creation and it was the Congress that was standing resolutely on the ground to take on the BJP.
Citing the examples of the Congress' 'BJP Gaddi Chhorho' campaign and party leaders spending three days in gram panchayats and wards to hold a direct dialogue with about 90 lakh people last month, Lallu said only one party is focussed on training its cadre and constantly struggling on the ground and that is the Congress.
"I say with full confidence that when you look at the strength, organisation and struggle, it is clear that Congress is the voice of farmers, youth, labourers, for women's security and of the village poor," he asserted.
Claiming that there is anger against the BJP over issues such as price rise, unemployment, farmers' "plight", poverty, reservation, "murder of democracy", Lallu said he believes that this anger will manifest itself in the polls and common people were standing with the Congress.
There is a strong undercurrent in favour of the Congress which will be visible in the elections, he said.
Asked about the demand of caste census by many Opposition parties and the Congress' stance on it, Lallu said his party's stand is clear and it is in favour of a caste-based census.
Previously also, under the UPA rule, the Congress had got it done and when the BJP came to power, they stopped the publishing of the caste data, he alleged.
The BJP does not want a caste census but the Congress believes it should be done, he said.
Lallu also asserted that the BJP's alleged crackdown on farmers as was seen in Haryana recently and the "three black farm laws" will also be a major issue in the upcoming polls and people will stand by the farmers.
"Under Priyanka Gandhi's leadership there have been various rallies in different parts of the state where these issues were raised. When Rakesh Tikait was attacked, she sent me and we have been strongly standing in support of the farmers," Lallu said.
"The three black laws were first opposed by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress has raised the issue both inside and outside Parliament," he said.
Lallu alleged that the recent incidents of mob violence and hate had been orchestrated by the BJP as it was "desperate and disappointed".
The BJP has lost the confidence of the people and they want to divert people from real issues by raising the Hindu-Muslim bogey, he alleged.
"But the people of UP know that this election will be about issues such as farmers' plight, health system, women's safety and corruption," Lallu said.
The Congress won just seven seats while its alliance partner SP bagged 47 seats in the 403-member assembly in the 2017 assembly polls.
The BJP won a thumping mandate with 312 seats and the BSP bagged 19 seats.